The day I got to Jerusalem was the peak of the famous snow storm. I have not seen the city this lovely, the crisp clean air on the mountainside suburbs preserving the virginal snow accumulations.
There were children in the streets, playing with the white cold dust, building the first snowman of their young lives in a celebration of nature, wonder and excitement.
What a well-deserved break, I thought. As I checked in to my favorite hotel, I asked room service to deliver hot chocolate to my room and I practically inhaled three large slices of the kugloff aka babka. I felt blissed out, looking out my window at the ancient walls surrounding the Old City, drinking my chocolate and thinking that these people have been through so much, are constantly going through so much, a day filled with joy due to white powder from the sky was something I felt immensely fortunate to share.
As I mentioned near the hotel is the Old City, which contains The Jewish Quarter. It is still used as a place of Jewish learning but the great attraction is the result of an excavation, a site, of great archeological and religious importance. In the 1970s, excavations revealed remains of a grand mansion from the period of the Second Temple.
In the basement of a modern Jewish Yeshiva, one can enter through a separate entrance to marvel at the mosaic patterned floor, vibrantly coloured frescos and precious, costly glassware and ceramics which belonged to the wealthy. Several stone cisterns are seen, and they are clearly private Mikves, decorated by holograms which mark their use. Many great scholars think that the quality of the artifacts may suggest this to be the long sought palace of the Cohen Gadol (high priest).
The Old City has some gorgeous landmark domed towers, the white Hurva Synagogue, and the sanctified Mt. Olive, with its holy cemetery where only the great may spend their days in the hereafter.
In the short few hours I had, I planned to go to the Kotel (The Wailing Wall), pray to Ha&rsquoShem and give thanks to The Creator for the gift of life, health and spirit, and for the courage of the people who live in a place I love dearly, despite the terror attacks, one of which I experienced in my early youth.
As is my custom, I put a small note inside cracks of the ancient walls, making my wish for peace. I then wanted to visit The city of David, just south of the Old City Walls. This is the very heart of the Old Testament, and was made the real capital 3000 years ago, when King David conquered the city. Since the city was built over the Gihon Spring 4000 years ago, I really wished go down the steps and wade through the entire length of the watery tunnel. The archeological sites were tempting but had to nix the idea of going underground in water in subzero temperatures. Instead I stayed dry and viewed the tunnel above ground. The area is very conservative and I saw the latest archeological finds, the finely cut step, fully exposed and leading to a large Mikveh for the pilgrims who flocked to the Temple 2000 years ago.
Of all the cities in the world, regardless of their size, beauty, even their importance as intellectual, spiritual or artistic hotbeds, none is as meaningful to as many people worldwide as The City of David, Jerusalem.
According to the Torah, King David was buried here, marked by the remnants of an ancient synagogue and a massive stone draped in an embroidered velvet cloth, and millenniums of tears and prayers.
The tomb has a mechitza, as man and women pray separately in the shrine.